How do I balance working from home and being a parent? – Ask Dr. Leman 108 (Episode 232)

When you work at home, parenting can be difficult. In today’s episode, Dr. Leman walks through tips on how to care for your child throughout your work day. Learn more about Dr. Leman at BirthOrderGuy.com.

Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours

The Birth Order Book

 

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Show Sponsored by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing

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Transcript

Doug:                       Well, hello. I’m Doug Turpening.

Andrea:                  And I’m Andrea.

Doug:                       And we are so glad that you are with us today. If this is your first time with us, just to let you know, this is for your education and entertainment purposes only. If this subject matter raises any concerns for you or a child, please go seek a local professional for help. Dr. Leman, today we get to give you a question from someone who recorded audio, and I just gotta remind everybody if you go to BirthOrderGuy.com/podcastquestion, or just get to BirthOrderGuy.com, you can leave a question.

All you have to do, quite literally, is from your iPhone or from your phone just to go Podcast Questions on the site and click the microphone and you can record right then, right there, and then you get your question answered. As well, while you’re there, you can just drop in your email and you’ll start getting these podcasts emailed directly to you, reminders, and just all sorts of good stuff. You also, as we keep telling you about these incredible book deals, you’ll also get those via email, as well. I encourage you, BirthOrderGuy.com. Okay, let’s jump into today’s question.

Lindsey:                 Hello, Dr. Leman, my name is Lindsey Lafferty [inaudible 00:01:31] from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Both my husband and I work full-time jobs, but are able to work from home part of the time to watch our one-year-old daughter. My husband works from home Monday and Tuesday and I work from home half the day on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Then my mom comes to our house and watches her the remainder of the day. Then I work from home all day Friday. My job is all on the computer, so my workdays consist of playing with my daughter when she wants to play and then working on my laptop when she’s content playing on her own or eating in her high chair.

My question is, what does a healthy work-from-home situation look like when my child is one year old, and how will that change as she gets older when she is old enough to understand the difference between work time for Mommy and playtime? Right now, she seems to start getting a little jealous when my time and attention is spent on work. Thank you for your help.

Dr. Leman:           Lindsey, what a great question. I have to tell you, I have a daughter who’s got two two-year-olds. Yes, twins. She works at home. She’s lucky, she has a babysitter come in and help but, you know, there’s days it’s like juggling seven oranges at once. The best advice I can tell you at this stage, at age one, is to build in a consistency, an expectancy. Your little precious daughter will give you that schedule, believe it or not. You’ll see her start to rub her eyes and you know it’s nap time, and there you are and your computer. You just have to finish four more paragraphs. Lindsey, don’t finish the paragraphs. Pick your little precious one up. Tuck her in bed, come back and finish the paragraphs.

Now, why do I say that? Because timing is everything with little kids and the closer you can keep to a reasonable schedule, they will begin to fall in line. Again, they’re sort of the ones that determine it. It’s not like you sit there like a military master sergeant and say, “You will fall asleep at 10:30. You will get up at 11:30. You will play for two hours. You will now take another nap.” Good luck with that. But that child will develop a pattern, okay? You play into that pattern. You’re blessed to have Mom there in Colorado Springs. I mean, that really is a blessing. Who could be better than Mom? Let’s face it.

The neat thing about this is, you both get a chance to parent your little daughter, okay? You’re gonna have to realize that even at age one, she’s beginning to figure out who these people are. Now, my question to you is, as you go through the cooing and all the wonderful little things that one-year-olds do, and they start to walk and fall down, how do you interact with your child? Do you respond to your child or do you react to your child? Now, I’m just telling you that your child, even at one, will read your emotions really well. If she says to herself, “Oh, that got a reaction, hm. That’s big. Let’s see now. What I do is I throw the fork at Mommy” or “I throw the fork toward the glass mirror near the table,” I’m just telling you the kids can read your eyes like a quarterback could read a defense in a football game.

They see a lot of things that maybe we don’t understand they see. Again, routine is important. Have that time with your child when you take that break and that 15 minutes, that 20 minutes, you have. Make the best of it. Tactile stimulation is so important. We’re talking about holding your child, eye to eye contact, raspberries on their tummy as you’re changing them. Be as interactive with that little precious daughter as you can. Before long, she’s gonna be headed toward that wonderful 18-month time, as I always remind young mommies. Power is gonna set in by 18 months. By that time, that little daughter will know all your soft spots, okay? She will read you like a book.

Daddies are worse than mommies, usually, especially with daughters ’cause daddies will say to a four-year-old, “I don’t care if you are four, here’s the keys to the car. Have a great evening.” We sorta overdo that, is what I’m saying. Routine is important, have fun, realize that since you have Mom in town, Grandma, I hope you like this one but you guys, both of you work in your home, you work hard. You need a time away from your precious daughter every week. Who’s gonna cut that time out if you don’t do it? You’re gonna have to make that responsibility. You’re gonna have to make that a routine in your life, that Friday night we go out or Saturday night we go out, because one of the best things you can do for that one-year-old is to make sure that as she grows up, she sees a couple who loves each other and respects each other, listens to each other, and that’s one of the real gifts that you can give to that one-year-old.

Doug:                       Andrea, did I hear in her voice in her question the guilt of trying to balance work and home, or was it how to tell the kid “not right now” in there?

Dr. Leman:           Again, kids are very trainable. There is this new invention, they just came out last November with it. It’s called a playpen. You can pick up that child. You see, a child all of a sudden, when they’re tired or overtired or cranky or just beside themselves or whatever, they seem Mommy at that computer and they’re thinking, “Hey, I’m more important than that computer. Watch me get Mom’s attention.” A kid will learn through trial and error how to get your attention. If you see a pattern start to form and you wanna try to nip it in the bud, you turn very calmly, not in an angry manner or anything like that, and you just pick the child up, give them a toy, divert them, and put them in that playpen where they can play by themselves and you don’t have the little anklebiter pulling on you.

There you are on your computer, but you’re also on the phone talking to your boss who’s two states away. The last thing you need is somebody tugging on you. Again, if it’s a matter of, “Hey, I need quiet,” then you might remove the child to their crib in the bedroom and just close the door. It’s not gonna kill them, it’s not gonna psychologically hurt them in any way, and you finish up your five-minute conversation with your boss and then you go back and attend to your daughter and bring her back into the family room area or wherever you work from.

Andrea:                  Dr. Leman, I guess I have two questions. One is, what does that pattern look like through the day, that reasonable schedule between the child’s needs and the work needs?

Dr. Leman:           Well, Mom has to work, okay? I think you have to look at the positive side of the fact that we’re blessed we’re in our home. I don’t have to get up early in the morning and I don’t have to drive 35 minutes in traffic and, depending upon where you live, I don’t have to go through snow or whatever the elements might be. It’s a privilege to be here in my home. Now, I have to give myself a little slack. I have to tell myself I have to work. We’re both working for the betterment of our little family. You know, most young couples with one-year-olds don’t have a lot of money. They usually haven’t bought their own home yet. Usually they’re in an apartment. There’s a lot of things to just be thankful for in this situation.

The point is this. Who is in authority over whom? You need to set that pattern early in life, which means there’s times where your child is going to get used to you picking them up and removing them from the scene. Again, removing them from the scene means maybe putting them in their bedroom. It might mean putting them in a playpen, like I said, some kind of a little isolation where you need a little space ’cause you have to get something done. Now, again, if a kid cries and wails about that in their bedroom and you can hear them in the bedroom, is that disconcerting? Yes. Is it a killer? No. As long as you don’t over-pay attention to it, guess what. It’s gonna diminish. She’s gonna learn that, “Uh-oh, pulling on Mommy is not a great idea because it ends up putting me in this room where I can’t even see what’s going on out there.”

Trust me, kids are smarter than we give them credit for.

Andrea:                  How is this child gonna not end up with this sense that maybe that jealousy over the computer? Is there a way that Mom can respond during non-work time to that child to help balance out the healthiness of their relationship?

Dr. Leman:           Sure. Mom doesn’t work all day. If she works an eight-hour shift, figure it out. She’s got a lunch break in there. She’s got 15-minute breaks probably every couple hours or so where she gets up. Keep in mind that baby’s gonna be sleeping for an hour and a half a couple times a day, sometimes three times a day. Well, she’s [inaudible 00:11:08] the sun shines, like someone said. You sort of shift into that super gear as a mom and get as much work as you can. As you hear the little baby begin to wake up, you’ll hear a little noise in the back bedroom. Maybe you got a monitor there and you can see her. She’s beginning to move around. Finish up your work and go in there with a happy face. Change her and feed her and have fun with her and 15 minutes later, you’re back. She will learn your pattern, believe it or not.

Doug:                       Is there an underlying assumption in here that Lindsey needs to give every waking moment to her child, and that’s why she said she’s afraid that she’ll get jealous of her?

Dr. Leman:           Yeah, probably so, Dr. Turpening. That’s a good observation, yeah. You know, again, the even-keeled nature that you can create as a parent, even if you admit to yourself, “Hey, Leman, I’m a little hyper. If you don’t believe me, call my husband. He’ll tell you.” If you know you’re hyper, really work hard at not looking hyper when you turn around and greet your daughter. Think, “Wow, look at this little creation from God. Am I lucky or what? I’m gonna have some fun with her.” Tell yourself, “I’m gonna have some fun with her the next 15 minutes.” Again, kids are demanding little suckers. I’ve said it in so many ways. They’re hedonistic. It’s all about them, and your job as they grow older is to teach them that there’s other people in life that count.

Two of those very important people, in fact I’m gonna throw in a third one since Grandma is so near and dear to you, there’s three others that count in life. Guess what. They’re not always gonna be there for you. That’s why I think it’s good training for a young couple to go out on a regular basis and set up time for us. You need that. Kids, if you let them, I mean, you have three or four kids, they’ll just suck the living energy right out of you. You’ll be too pooped to whoop, and you know what I mean.

Andrea:                  How long will it take this child to figure out Mom’s pattern and fall into line with their schedule?

Dr. Leman:           Not long. I mean, if you want a number on it, I’d say it’s very natural because they’re learning it from the time they’re six, seven months of age. They’re getting used to these sleep patterns and stuff when they take their nap, and of course mommies are saying, “Hey, Leman, hold on. Sleep patterns change with kids as they get older.” They do. But they’re gonna be able to figure that out in a short period of time. Well, what’s that? A week or two. Be consistent, be loving, watch the expression on your face, and realize what a privilege it is to have your little daughter right there.

Andrea:                  I like that. Be consistent, be loving, and watch the expression on your face.

Doug:                       Dr. Leman, Lindsey’s super conscientious. She’s trying to do the right thing. Is there one book that you would say, “Hm, with a one-year-old, this is the book I’d recommend for you, Lindsey?”

Dr. Leman:           I would say “Making Children Mind Without Losings Yours,” even though she’ll grow into that book. She’s not ready for that book yet in many ways. But I like that book because it gives you the basic theory of striving to be the parent that’s in authority without being an authoritarian because you don’t just become an authoritarian. You start from day one, and you talk to your one-year-old like she’s a four-year-old. Hello. You don’t reason with a one-year-old, you use action, not words. I would say “Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.” The other one that comes to mind is “The Birth Order Book” because it gives you great insight.

You’re the one, Dr. Turpening, that said Lindsey wants to do things right. That’s obvious. She just might be a firstborn daughter and she might read that book and realize, “Wow, I do have agendas not only for myself, but for other people.” You see what I’m saying? Those books have good crossover. The book “Have A New Kid by Friday,” New York Times Bestselling book. Parents love the book. It says things like, “Say it once, turn your back, walk away.” Well, with a one-year-old, how do you take that information and turn it into, “Okay, what does that mean?” It means don’t make a big thing over a little thing. Don’t get overly exercised over something that is very natural, okay?

Lots of times, kids will engage in very natural behavior, like they’ll take something and throw it on the floor. The parent says, “Honey, don’t do that.” The kid does it again and the parent gets all upset. Hello? That’s developmentally appropriate behavior for a one-year-old. They love to take things, and they don’t care if it’s a $10,000 vase if they could crash on the kitchen floor. They love that sound.

Doug:                       For Lindsey’s sake, Lindsey, “Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours,” great one to read first. I couldn’t agree more, just to get that foundational ideas are just absolutely fabulous. “The Birth Order Book” is one of those you read it and you go, “Oh no” or “Oh yay” and “Ah haha” for my own life as well as my kids. Those are two great recommendations.

Well, Lindsey, thank you for having the guts to ask that question. I sure hope that it helps you out a bunch. I also wanna say thank you to Baker Books and Reveille who are, again sponsoring this podcast and making it happen. Again, this would not be happening without them, so a huge, huge thanks to them, and a huge thanks to all of you that listen. We love doing this and adding to your parenting toolbox that you can just love those kids more and more. We look forward to the next time we’re with you and we just keep love answering your questions. Hope you have a good day.

Andrea:                  Have a good day. Thank you, Dr. Leman.

Doug:                       Bye bye.